Joseph Kandeni is lying on his bed, resting his head on a pillow. He’s not asleep, he’s not trying to fall asleep. He’s thinking about his young life as the red evening sun throws narrow rays through the only window of his small hostel room. He’s feeling off balance. His life is spiraling and he’s trying to put it together in his head.
Joseph has just received a call from his father, it was not good news. He’s looking up at the white water-damaged ceiling with the phone still clutched in his right hand. The 21 year old second-year medical student is trying to figure out what to do next. Everything was fine just a few hours before, but then slowly began to unravel that afternoon.
The phone conversation with his father had been short, too short. His father had hung-up before Joseph could tell him his own news. Fill him in on events that occurred just an hour before in the dean of medicine’s office. Events that had put him on the first spiral he was in before his father called him. He was dreading to tell his parents about it but now they would have other things on their minds.
Alone in the room, he thinks as he listens to the wind rustling through the leaves of the trees outside his window and the shuffling footsteps from outside his door of other students returning to their rooms after evening classes. The silence of his own room is broken by the ringing of his phone. It’s a text; from an unexpected source. He opens the message and reads it.
Hi, been a while, umepotea wapi?
He looks at it and smiles. The message is from Sera Makawa, a friend he hadn’t seen for a while because he had been busy with his mid-terms. Sera was a tall and thin second-year art student he met through a mutual friend a year ago. He thinks for a bit then he types.
Mimi niko tu, kuja unitafute 🙂
He waits for the reply which he is sure will come, she always replied to texts immediately. He liked that about her, he liked her from the moment they met. She wasn’t like his female medical-student classmates. Although not very book-smart, she was very artsy and smart about life. The exact opposite of himself.
After a minute, his phone rings as expected, a new message. He reads.
Sawa 🙂 we should meet up, movie?
They had the same taste many things and especially movies. The two of them would go out, but only as friends, whenever something good came out. He thinks about the last time they saw each other, one month back, as he types.
Ok, I’ll call you when I’m free.
He waits as he now watches the single pale-blue curtain on his window dancing to the breeze. Again he doesn’t have to wait for long, he feels the slight vibration of the phone in his hand before hearing the familiar message tone. He reads.
Cool, looking forward to it. How is everything else, classes and such?
The words of the message take him back into his mind-spiral. Incredibly he had managed to put away his troubles from his mind. He stares at his phone, thinking about the question for a full minute before typing.
Things are awful, my parents are separating and I might get kicked out of school.
Joseph looks at the message he has just typed. Such earnest, the most he has ever put in a single text. He feels uncomfortable. He hadn’t know Sera for long, only a year. During the times they had spent together, they always kept their conversations on casual topics and had never gone much deeper. He feels like this is a mistake.
He also doesn’t want her feeling sorry for him. He pictures her in his head; pretty round face with piercing brown eyes and her smile that always managed to lighten him up. He feels himself longing to see that face again, those eyes. He begins to type again.
I’ve missed you since the last time, been thinking about you a lot.
Joseph surprises himself. He didn’t know just how much he missed her till that moment. Till he saw those words on his phone which he typed almost on auto-pilot. He panics.
He had something special with Mary and he didn’t want to ruin it. Besides, he couldn’t face the rejection, not this day. But then, he feels something stirring inside him. An emotion that makes his heart beat faster and an intensity well-up from the pit of his stomach all the way up to the back of his throat making him want to shout. He thinks, “what the hell, what’s the worst that could happen?” He types.
I think I’m in love with you.
He looks at the words. He pictures her reading them, not quite able to make out her face. Is she smiling? Is she frowning? He can’t tell. Fear grips him again. He feels her drifting away. What if she doesn’t feel the same?
What was he thinking? That would have been a disaster; he would have lost her for good if he had sent that text. He lies there still, breathing fast. He waits until his breathing slows down and his heart stops racing. He types.